Monthly Archives: April 2015

Life on another planet: glowing red hills and waves of grass

golden evening light in Crosdale

the rare golden light that spills onto the hills just before dusk

This evening was the first one of the year that has been warm enough for me to sit on the hill and paint without hypothermia setting in. Even so, I’ve been trying to go and paint up there in recent weeks, putting up with the numb and freezing limbs that inevitably result. There is something so tempting about the last hour or so of golden sun that lights up the hills with a bright red glow. A recent conversation with a fellow painter from far away led to the revelation that my landscapes remind her almost of another planet. She doesn’t know this area though, and the fact that it sometimes resembles Mars, particularly when the red glow begins to brighten.

Having become an expert at hiding from the public while painting (I am unable to talk and paint and am envious of those who can – it seems a bit like patting your head and rubbing your tummy at the same time …) it may be difficult to spot the plein air painter’s kit, let alone the painter, in the immensity of the fells.

view of fells with plein air kit

where is the plein air painter?

plein air painter's pochade box on the hill

sneaking up on the pochade box for a closer look

On the evening when these photos were taken I had been reading a book about David Bomberg and, from looking at the illustrations for the umpteenth time, had realised that there was a similarity of process between his charcoal drawings and his paintings. I decide to paint as if I was drawing just to see what would happen and this picture was the result.

plein air painting

the painting in progress

I’ve added the next photo because Andi asked me why there are strange bleached-looking wave forms in the foregrounds of some of my paintings. I think you can see them in the photograph – they are particularly noticeable in front of the painting kit. These are the waves of pale, wind-blasted and sculpted, bleached reedy grass that translate into the more abstract forms in some of my landscapes, like the one below. Who knows, maybe no-one else can see them but me??

plein air painting in the hills, waves of grass in foreground

waves of wind-sculpted sun-bleached grass in the foreground

evening light on Crosedale

evening colours fall on Crosedale, oil on canvas plein air sketch, 6×8 inches

Out on the hill, as the painting comes to its conclusion, there is always enough light left to enjoy being alone in the stillness, with just birds (and sometimes curious sheep) for company. Then the day starts to disappear, mist drifts in from the sea and it starts to get cold. It’s time to move.

mist rolling over the hills at dusk

as light fades the mist rolls in